She confesses that it is a welcome break from her eight-hour training schedule at the Tata Archery Academy (TAA) in Jamshedpur. But ever since Dola Banerjee landed at the Netaji Subhas International Airport on Sunday evening, she has had very little time to rest. Friends, relatives and hordes of mediapersons have been pouring in at her place in Basak Bagan, Baranagar, since Monday morning, two days after she's won the grand final of the World Cup in Dubai, defeating Korean Choi Eun Young by one point.
Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview with India's ace archer.
Considering that you qualify in the selection trials to represent India at the Beijing Olympics, how would you evaluate your win in Dubai?
The selection trials begin from January and to keep the good form going will be the key. But what the victory has given me is a huge boost to my confidence before I begin training for the Olympics. The win will also help us neutralise part of the mental block that Koreans are unbeatable. Now we know that even Koreans can come under pressure provided you are right there to push them to the limit.
Has the new rule of 12 arrows instead of 18 in the individual events helped India?
I don't know whether it has actually helped us, but we are slowly getting a feel of it. With six arrows reduced, the margin of error is even lesser. Now it is a lot difficult to predict a winner and there are a lot more upsets. That goes for us as well and we too have to be on our guard against teams or players ranked below us. It's more like a Twenty20 match now.
How significant has been the role of coaches in your career?
Right from the day when I began under coaches Pratap Das and Prabir Das to Dharmender Tiwari and Poornima Mahato, coaches have been everything. The sport is such that even if you train throughout the day, there are certain areas where a coach plays a vital role. Take Lim (Chae Woong) for instance. There is a school of thought that says he is not effective. But a lot of archers including myself have improved big time under him at the TAA. He has a completely different training method and helps us both technically and mentally.
What about the generation of archers that follow you Reena (Kumari) and Chekrovolu (Swuro)?
The scenario is not ideal, but it's improving. Unlike men, the women's pool of archers is very small. So the competition is also limited to just a handful. There have been a lot of girls who have shown promise at the junior level but have faded very fast. I don't know the reason, but it could be that we follow similar training methods for both men and women. The flip side to it could be that women cannot cope as fast as men when the poundage (bow tension) is increased. I shot for 10 years with a 38 poundage bow and then gradually increased. I think women need more time to get into top gear.